• Acorn Processing and Pottery Use in the Upper Great Lakes: An Experimental Comparison of Stone Boiling and Ceramic Technology

      Hanson, Kelsey E.; Bryant, Paula L.; Painter, Autumn M.; Skibo, James M.; Univ Arizona, Sch Anthropol (Informa UK Limited, 2019-07-27)
      The adoption of pottery in the Upper Great Lakes region occurs quite late compared to the greater Eastern Woodlands. Recent organic residue analyses suggest that the earliest pottery in the Upper Great Lakes region was likely used to process acorns. Through experimental means using temperature as a proxy, this paper evaluates the efficacy of leaching tannins from acorns by comparing two regionally available cooking technologies: stone boiling versus simmering in a ceramic vessel. Our results indicate that tannins can be more effectively leached at simmering temperatures like those provided by ceramic vessels. At boiling temperatures, tannins are irreversibly bound to the acorn starches, rendering the nutmeat inedible in further processing. While there are a number of reasons to adopt and use pottery, it appears that processing acorns may be another important addition to this growing list.